Chelsea’s returning starlets will form the nucleus of an exceptional team
With all the hysteria surrounding Chelsea this season it is easy to forget that they have the core of a young and potentially devastating team. Along with the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Cesar Azpilicueta, who are already in the first team, they own some of Europe’s top young prospects who are thriving out on loan in various leagues.
So let’s take a look at the best of these starlets who will be coming home in the summer and what their future at the club could look like.
The Belgian goalkeeper is currently starring for Atletico Madrid in La Liga, and is one of the best goalkeeping prospects in the world. In his two seasons in Spain, he has played 84 games, keeping 41 clean sheets, which is an incredibly high ratio. He is an unbelievable shot stopper and has total control of his box and defence.
I would personally argue that he is already better than Petr Cech and is only going to keep improving if he is given the opportunity to play more first-team football. There have been rumblings that he may just stay out in Spain for a couple more years but he is ready for Premier League action right away. Chelsea have leaked a lot of silly goals this year and Cech is not what he was a few years ago. In two years, Courtois could well be considered the best in the world.
The Belgian striker is having a big season in the Premier League for West Brom. He has already scored 13 goals despite Steve Clarke’s bizarrely infrequent use of him. He is scoring at a rate of a goal every 106 minutes in a team where he isn’t surrounded by the likes of Hazard and Mata creating chances for him. Incredibly, he’s only 19. The comparison to Didier Drogba is not just because he plays for Chelsea but because he does play like Drogba.
His combination of pace and strength is ridiculous and his finishing is calm and composed. Look at his goal at Anfield where Daniel Agger bounced off him before he calmly slotted home. Chelsea have been criticised for loaning him out but it was the right decision. How much would a 19-year-old scoring in the Premier League at near enough a goal a game cost to buy? Something astronomical. But Chelsea will have him ready to lead the line for next year. He’ll be better than Demba Ba once settled in, and I won’t bother comparing him to Fernando Torres.
Kevin de Bruyne
The third Belgian, but probably the least known. However, he could well turn out to be the best of the bunch. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder combines express pace with trickery and goals. Think Hazard and you won’t go far wrong.
In the Bundesliga at Werder Bremen this year, he already has eight goals and six assists in a team where he is always going to be the main focus for opposition defences. Imagine the damage he could cause with Mata and Hazard distracting defences. He will be ready to play for the first team next year.
An Englishman for a change, 18-year-old deep-lying passer Chalobah is having an outstanding season in the Championship with Watford. With an almost frightening calmness on the ball and supreme balance and elegance, Chalobah glides around the midfield a bit like a Paul Scholes or Mousa Dembele, and has the full range of passing to match.
He has also started to pop up with more goals recently to add to his armoury. He isn’t quite ready for the Chelsea first team, but a year on loan in the Premier League would do the trick. Gianfranco Zola says he is the future of Chelsea’s midfield.
There are also the likes of defender Jeffrey Bruma and midfielders Josh McEachran and Lucas Piazon, who should all have a future in the first team picture with another season or two of football. Not forgetting Ryan Bertrand who is being readied to take over at left back from Ashley Cole.
In a couple of years time they could have this; Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Bruma, Bertrand; Oscar, Chalobah; Hazard, Mata, de Bruyne; Lukaku.
The future is potentially very bright for Chelsea but it depends entirely on how they manage the situation. They need to have patience and faith in these youngsters and give them the opportunity they deserve. This would be best done by investing in and believing in a manager who has experience with such a project.
The ideal man to get would be Jurgen Klopp but a Michael Laudrup or even Jupp Heynckes would be good choices. If they do things properly and add a few other players elsewhere, then they could build a team to play the beautiful winning football that Roman Abramovich dreams of.